Studio door shut on Lanyon landscape project

Share Canberra's trusted news:
Vickie Hingston-Jones. “Threads”, ink and acrylic.

THROUGH a clever hook-up between ACT Historic Places and the territory’s oldest artists’ organisation, the 1927 Artists Society of Canberra, works by six artists from ASOC are on show in an online exhibition, “Creating Lanyon”.

Initially the idea was for the show to run live in June this year, but it has taken until very recently for the exhibition of paintings, prints and drawings to be posted online.

In the autumn and summer of 2019, even as fires licked at the edges of Canberra, artists Deanna Copeland, Angharad Dean, Vickie Hingston-Jones, Annette Rennie, Linda Tawagi and Judi Power-Thompson, undertook a visual arts residency at the old Nolan Gallery in the Lanyon precinct.

From the point of view of Historic Places, the idea was to explore the gardens and grounds of Lanyon Homestead, responding to the landscape, its built history and stories through visual art.

The project was the brainchild of former ASOC president Hingston-Jones, a volunteer guide at Lanyon who had noticed that the former Nolan Gallery had been in disuse since the collection was removed to the Canberra Museum and Gallery after the 2003 bushfires.

Hingston-Jones used her connections at Lanyon to persuade them that it would be the perfect location for artists to work and commune with natural surroundings.

Judi Power Thomson, “Convict Hut” detail, acrylic on canvas, 2019.

“It was wonderful, with lots of little spaces, you could look out and see the gum trees – it was a fabulous place to work,” one of the artists, Judi Power Thomson, reports.

“I just walked around with my canvas and drew on it, she says. 

“Some of us did paint en plein air [outside], but chiefly we took a few photos, did some sketches and then worked in that studio place.”

“They’re using it now for education purposes, bringing in school groups, but it was perfect for artists, with a little kitchen and toilets, and it was lovely and quiet to be with the birds and trees.”

The artists, all Canberrans, didn’t live there but the space was given to them for their painting and they took turns, coming in for about two weeks at a time.

As the exhibition shows, each artist had a different slant on Lanyon.

Vickie Hingston-Jones, for instance, who adopted a more abstract approach, has described her work as “a record of the rhythm of my days and the world around me… A theme of transience runs through my work, recording what will never be seen again”.

Annette Rennie, “The Shed”, oils.

Annette Rennie said she had been attracted to the warm, dry colours of the landscape, adding, “I painted at Lanyon in winter when the light and the colours were cool and subdued”.

Linda Tawagi, “Dancing Blossom Trees”, acrylic, gouache, pencil on paper.

Linda Tawagi was particularly struck by “the myriad of shapes, shadows and textures within that landscape… tree shapes, some resembling sculptures, long shadows in the afternoon and the look and feel of the textures of the bark on trees”.

Deanna ‘Dee’ Copeland, “Conversation on the Murrumbidgee”.

Dee Copeland, secretary of ASOC and also a guide for ACT Historic Places, painted her “Beyond the Gate” series “En Plein Air”.

“Whilst I painted beneath stately elms, oaks, birches and plane trees birds sang, the sun shone and the Murrumbidgee River flowed,” she said. 

“It was the ambience of the site that drew me to wonder what other stories lie beyond the gate.”

Angharad Dean, “Lanyon Hill”, ed1, solar plate etching.

Angharad Dean has made print-making her passion.

“I love the physical act of moving the ink on the plate and the ability to change each print to have its own special character,” Dean said. As well, working at Lanyon in the heat and dust and with the threat of approaching fires, opened her eyes to the isolation of living at a homestead.

Judi Power Thomson chose differing viewpoints of the homestead to create interest, as well as the convict huts, the courtyard, the gardens, the view of the Murrumbidgee from the café and an old gum tree on the property.

“To help capture the feeling of the 1850s, I prepared a textured surface on which to work, reminiscent of the stone buildings and stucco rendering of that period. This was done with a modelling compound and a palette knife scraped on the canvas… I feel the rough texture sits well with the stone, rock and granite of the homestead,” she said.

According to Power Thomson, ASOC has now received an email saying ACT Historic Places won’t be continuing the arts residency.

“I don’t know why – the building is just sitting there, empty,” she said.

“ Creating Lanyon”, Artists Society of Canberra Artists in Residence 2019, may be viewed here.

The Lanyon property at Tharwa Drive, Tharwa, will re-open after Christmas and New Year on January 7, Wednesday–Sunday, 10am-4pm.

Who Can You Trust?

In a world beleaguered by spin and confused messages, there's never been more need for diverse, trustworthy, independent journalism in Canberra.

Who can you trust? Well, for more than 25 years, "CityNews" has proudly been an independent, free, family-owned news magazine, serving the national capital with quality, integrity and authority. Through our weekly magazine and daily through our digital platforms, we constantly and reliably deliver high-quality and diverse opinion, news, arts, socials and lifestyle columns.

If you trust our work online and believe in the power of independent voices, I encourage you to make a small contribution.

Every dollar of support will be invested back into our journalism so we can continue to provide a valuably different view of what's happening around you and keep free.

Click here to make your donation and you will be supporting the future of journalism and media diversity in the ACT.

Thank you,

Ian Meikle, editor

Previous articleCouncil awarded ‘most progressive’ prize
Next articleThe chief’s looking for volunteers with heart
Helen Musa
“CityNews” arts editor

Leave a Reply